A housing discrimination suit accusing the owners and manager of a Westside apartment building of racial bias has been settled out of court for $80,000, according to Blanche Rosloff, executive director of the Westside Fair Housing Council.
The suit was filed in 1983 in U.S. District Court against Jan and Ralph Albrecht, owners of the 22-unit building at 3448 Sawtelle Blvd.; James Johnston, the manager, and two companies the Albrechts own, C & H Group Inc. and Reliable Enterprises Inc.
Rosloff said the lawsuit was initiated after Lamont Cosby, a black man, told the council that although a rental notice was posted at the building, he had never been able to get inside to apply for an apartment. Cosby said he believed that the manager was able to see him from an upstairs terrace and would not answer when he rang the bell.
The suit was filed by attorney Eleanor Rehm White on behalf of the council, volunteers and council employees who attempted to rent apartments in the building and several black tenants living there at the time.
White said that none of the council's checkers were denied an apartment after completing an application, but that minority checkers were subjected to harassment, such as having higher prices quoted to them than to white checkers.
While denying all the allegations, the defendants agreed to pay the $80,000, which will be divided among the council and the other plaintiffs.
The management also agreed to place equal-opportunity logos at the building and to post notices of all apartments for rent. The Fair Housing logo will be included in all advertising and listings. The defendants also agreed to distribute copies of a booklet called "Your Housing Rights," which is put out by the Fair Housing Council.
Roger Diamond, who represented the Albrechts and their companies, said, "The actual owner of the building is the C & H Investment group. Mr. and Mrs. Albrecht live in Sacramento. They are absentee owners. Management was left in the hands of the resident manager, Mr. Johnston.
"There are black people in the building. Mr. Johnston was of the mistaken belief that he could maintain racial balance in the apartment building. Unfortunately, he apparently didn't realize that you can't refuse to rent to black person even in the interest of maintaining racial balance, which apparently was a mistake on his part.
"The Albrechts regret the whole situation."
Diamond said that $72,500 of the $80,000 was paid by the G & H Group's insurance company. Reliable Enterprises paid $7,500, Diamond said.